In the wake of the craft cocktail movement, could poptails be far behind?
“Poptails” (Octopus, $12.99) is the clever name for tipsy adult ice pops infused with a jigger of booze. The cookbook that recently crossed my desk is the brainchild of London-based food stylist Laura Fyfe.
I was initially intrigued by the idea of freezing alcohol, something that can be difficult to do. “You have to go easy,” Fyfe told me in a telephone interview regarding the amount used to spike each recipe, “but they still have quite a kick.”
Indeed, it’s a delicate ratio. Still, Fyfe’s ice pops are saucy even though they have only 4 tablespoons of alcohol per recipe. “Freezing dulls the flavors of the ingredient so the alcohol tastes stronger than if you mixed it in a glass,” she said.
I made three flavors: the super-green cucumber Gin Zing, a tasty Pomegranate, Vanilla and Vodka and an English Summer Cup with slices of apple, strawberry and mint. The recipes are simple, delicious and complex, just the sort of layering of flavors we demand from our favorite cocktails.
But I must admit that during our photo shoot, more than half of the ice pops refused to unmold when pulled by the handle. When life gives you lemons, make slush instead. When I asked Fyfe about my dilemma, she said she always uses traditional wooden sticks.
On closer inspection I realized every frosty photo in Fyfe’s book was styled with traditional wooden sticks. A quick Google search revealed all kinds of poptails out there — check out endlesssimmer.com and Pinterest — and all of them on wooden sticks. (And I thought that was strictly an aesthetic choice, since none of the recipes specify wooden sticks over the plastic sticks that typically come with the molds sold at nearly every department store this time of year.)
“Wooden sticks are much better,” Fyfe told me, “because they hold and offer a bit more friction.”
She also advises dipping the molds in hot water to help get just enough melt to loosen the ice pop.
Like Fyfe, plenty of folks are getting on the poptail bandwagon as a novel way to beat the summer heat. Food & Wine Magazine’s July issue features Mojito-Watermelon Pops. Lindsay Laricks of Little Freshie, a Kansas City, Mo., area business that sells handcrafted sodas and all-natural snow cones, says she sees the trend. “I get requests for it all the time,” she says. “It’s my number one question.”
And remember: If your poptail fails, there’s no reason not to slurp it up as a snow cone instead.